The EPA presents its evaluation of impacts to underground drinking water from hydraulic fracturing of coal bed methane reservoirs, including a literature survey and incidents of well contamination. The agency reports that it finds little or no threat to drinking water from fracking, although in some cases the use of diesel fuel has led to the direct contamination of ground water with toluene, benzene, ethylbenzene and xylene. Three companies, who do about 95% of the fracking in the United States, have voluntarily agreed to stop using diesel fuel, according to the EPA.
Environmentalists claim that fracking causes contamination of groundwater and releases hazardous chemicals. They state that in 2005 the oil and gas industry was granted an exemption from the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, allowing the industry to act without EPA supervision. At the state level, they note, most oil and gas agencies don’t require companies to report the names and amounts of chemicals that are being injected.
Baker Hughes, one of the biggest US suppliers, says it will disclose all the chemicals in its fracking fluid without protecting trade secrets.
Baker Hughes believes it is possible to disclose 100% of the chemical ingredients we use in hydraulic fracturing fluids without compromising our formulations – a balance that increases public trust while encouraging commercial innovation. Where accepted by our customers and relevant governmental authorities, Baker Hughes is implementing a new format that achieves this goal, providing complete lists of the products and chemical ingredients used.
The EPA releases an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking asking for public comment on the types of information that should be reported about hydraulic fracturing materials – things like what chemicals are used and how much, as well as the circumstances. The agency also asks for suggestions on the options for reporting related health and safety studies. It wants to know whether and how trade secrets could be reported and then disclosed publicly without revealing the identities of individual products and their owners. Additionally, it invites comment on whether best management practices should be disclosed, whether third-party certification and collection should be required, and whether the agency should use incentives for disclosure, although the EPA hasn’t yet decided whether such disclosures should be mandatory, voluntary, or a combination of the two. All comments must be submitted on or before August 18, 2014.
Texas state regulators report that a second investigation has again shown insufficient evidence that oil and gas development activities, including hydraulic fracturing, have caused methane pollution in nearby private water wells. The commission looked at records on nine private wells in the Silverado area of Parker County, as well as regulatory documents and other public data since 2011 when complaints spurred their first investigation. The regulators say:
The occurrence of natural gas in the complainants’ water wells may be attributed to natural migration of gas from the shallow Strawn Formation, exacerbated by water well construction practices whereby some water wells have penetrated ‘red beds’ in the transition interval between the aquifer and the Strawn Formation. Contribution of natural gas to the aquifer by the nearby Barnet Shale gas production wells is not indicated by the physical evidence.
British media leak news that, in her June 4th speech to Parliament setting the proposed government agenda, Queen Elizabeth II will recommend an infrastructure and competitiveness bill that changes trespassing laws to permit shale gas exploration firms to drill on private land without the owner’s permission. The owner of one of the leading companies had earlier told media that it would be impractical to negotiate drilling rights with each individual landowner.
The governor of North Carolina signs a law that ends a long-time ban, prevents local governments from outlawing fracking, and makes it illegal to reveal what chemicals drillers use.
We have watched and waited as other states moved forward with energy exploration, and it is finally our turn. This legislation will spur economic development at all levels of our economy, not just the energy sector.
Permits will be issued starting two months after state regulations are done, probably early in 2015.
AER issues rules to regulate fracking, and monitor and prevent earthquakes in the province. Alberta has the third proven crude oil reserve in the world, after Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. All oil producers must show the impact of fracking, and implement a monitoring and response program. Jim Ellis, AER’s CEO:
While these seismic events have not impacted public safety, it is our job to take this precautionary step to ensure energy resources in this area are developed in a safe and responsible manner.
Oklahoma State Supreme Court rules that home-owners whose dwellings have been damaged due to fracking-related earthquakes can sue the companies responsible. The main reason behind the ruling is so that lawsuits wouldn’t have to go through the Oklahoma Corporation Commission.
Allowing district courts to have jurisdiction in these types of private matters does not exercise inappropriate ‘oversight and control’ over the [Corporation Commission]…rather, it conforms to the long-held rule that district courts have exclusive jurisdiction over private tort actions when regulated oil and gas operations are at issue.